Europe

Turkey fury over Islamism claims in leaked German report

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech on 2 August 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Turkey has been incensed by a German document suggesting that under President Erdogan it has become a "platform of action for Islamist groups"

The Turkish government has reacted angrily to a leaked German government document that suggested Turkey has become a platform for Islamist groups.

The claims reflected a "distorted mentality", a Turkish official was quoted as saying.

The leaked document had been produced by the German interior ministry.

The government in Berlin quickly moved to distance itself from the document and emphasised Turkey's importance in the fight against jihadism.

A foreign ministry spokesman said it did not share the assessment of the document as published in the media. In further statements, Berlin officials also emphasised Ankara's role in curbing the influx of refugees into Europe from Turkey.

Bilateral ties have already been bruised by a series of recent spats:

The latest point of tension comes over a classified interior ministry response to a question from the opposition Die Linke party.

According to public broadcaster ARD, the document said that "the numerous statements of solidarity and action of support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and groups of armed Islamist opposition in Syria by the ruling party AKP and President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan underline their ideological affinity to the Muslim Brothers".

"As a result of Ankara's domestic and foreign policy that has been Islamised step-by-step above all since 2011, Turkey has developed into the central platform of action for Islamist groups in the Middle East region," the document goes on.

Both the EU and US see Hamas - which rules Gaza - as a terrorist organisation.


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German interior ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said the confidential report had been signed by a deputy minister, and that neither Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere nor the foreign ministry had been involved.

"Where people work, mistakes can happen," Mr Dimroth said, according to Reuters news agency.

But Turkey demanded an explanation.

The claims in question are "a new indication of the distorted mindset which has been attempting to weaken our country by means of [attacking] our president and our government," said a statement from the foreign ministry quoted by state news agency Anadolu..

It also acknowledged that the left-wing Die Linke party was behind the leak, referring to "political circles in Germany" and their "double-standard manners in the fight against terror, including the bloody actions of the (Kurdish militant) PKK".

The PKK is in open conflict with Turkey. Although it is viewed by the EU and US as a terror group, Die Linke has called for the ban to be lifted.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert emphasised that Berlin also saw the PKK as a terrorist organisation. But he stressed that it viewed Turkey's relationship with Hamas with great concern, as the radical Islamist group in Gaza refused to recognise Israel.

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